U.S. warship sails near islands claimed by China, angering Beijing

Beijing condemned the mission of the guided-missile destroyer USS 'Chafee, ' which on Tuesday sailed within 16 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, within the framework of a so-called "freedom of navigation" operation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson at a news briefing in Beijing today said a guided missile destroyer intrusion in its territorial water is the violation of worldwide laws and damaged China's sovereignty.

The number of Chinese medical tourists to South Korea declined sharply in the first half of this year, mainly due to the diplomatic row with China over the deployment of a USA anti-missile system here, government data showed Wednesday.

South Korea's new ambassador to China said Tuesday conflict between the two countries over Seoul's deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the USA "cannot continue this way".

A United States official said the destroyer USS Chafee sailed near the Paracel Islands on Tuesday, coming within 16 nautical miles of land.

"We demand the USA side earnestly take steps to correct its mistakes", it added. The warship allegedly carried out a "freedom of navigation" operation near the islands, according to an exclusive report by Reuters.

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It added that it would further strengthen its naval and air defenses.

This comes after US President Donald Trump's requested China's cooperation in addressing North Korea's missile and nuclear programs during his UN speech during the General Assembly of the United Nations in September.

China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in shipborne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The trip will include a stop in China, which Trump has been pressuring to do more to rein in North Korea.

Experts and some US officials have criticized former president Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping.

Xisha Islands are China's inherent territory, and China announced the baseline of territorial waters off these islands in 1996, according to Hua.

  • Sonia Alvarado